In this post I will share a few of my favorite moments in which bands have dramatically changed their style for the worse. I will explore each of these self-clownings along three dimensions:
- Why they changed: I will take a guess at what the practice room discussions were in which they decided it was a good idea
- Fan reaction: Exactly how did fans react to the betrayal?
- How badly it fucked them: On a scale of 0-10, how badly did it impair the band's ability to receive income in the future?
In all seriousness, I cannot fathom what could have a) possessed them to think this is a good idea or b) convinced Century Media to release this. I'm really not joking here! If I was the dude at CM who was responsible for the bottom line on the Cryptopsy account, when I heard the demos I think my feedback would be something like: "Dudes, I totally respect that you want to do something different and that's awesome but I have a fucking mortgage to pay. Putting clean vocals on a Cryptopsy record is basically taking food directly out of my family's mouth so that you can 'explore the boundaries of extreme metal' or whatever bullshit you just said to me. If you want to experiment, do it on your own dime. Now get the fuck out of my office and go write 'None So Vile Part 2'!"
Why they changed
(Translated from French)
Guy 1: I'm bored with death metal. Remember when we got that metalcore guy to sing on our last couple records, and everybody hated it because they want to hear sick-ass death metal not a poor man's Suicide Silence? We should do something even more zany than that for the next record.
Guy 2: Totally! Don't forget that we also made a decision at that one band meeting to write boring songs with 5,000 nondescript riffs in them instead of catchy, simple shit that you couldn't stop listening to like on our first few albums.
Guy 1: Yeah, yeah, I remember, quit nagging me about it. Anyhow, I've been listening to a lot of Diecast and Poison The Well lately, we should totally do that thing where they have half-assed death metal vocals, then the guy starts singing and when you hear it you're all "Dude, that's so beautiful!!" and a single tear rolls down your cheek. Oh, and let's wear leather pants with buckles on them in the video.
Guy 2: Pass the poutine, please.
How badly it fucked them
8.5/10. Perhaps someone from Century Media can chime in and tell us exactly how far their sales have plummeted, but I have to guess that their transition to "shitty Killswitch Engage" was pretty much a death blow. The only reason I didn't give them a 10 is that Flo will always be able to sell instructionals to shut-ins who would rather practice their double flamadiddles than deal with the terrifying prospect of leaving the house.
Why they changed
Phil: Fuckin' a dudes, I'm fuckin' high as fuck man... Let's do some new shit, I ain't down with these fuckin' powederpuff jams. I was just sittin' here feeling the fuckin' high, and I saw something... I saw the fuckin' universe!! I looked into the middle of the sun, and it told me that the four of us were put on this Earth for one thing: To create the NEW GENERATION OF POWER GROOVE!
Everybody else: Right on bro, power groove, hell yeah! But hey, can we just play "Strutter" one more time before we reinvent the steel??
"Duuuuude, what the fuck man?! Quit yelling and shit! It makes my fuckin' head hurt! Why are you all aggro and shit, I thought Pantera was a rock band? Quit screaming, man, my chick is gettin' freaked out! Fuck this, I'm putting in my Vinnie Vincent tape to get her in the mood again." *Rides away on his Mongoose, plastic comb stuck in the back pocket of his size 28 jeans*
How badly it fucked them
0/10: They timed their makeover perfectly, coinciding with the death of glam and the mainstreaming of angsty "hard rock." You can think of the revamped Pantera as the angry, brutish brother of Alice In Chains in many ways. Both got high way too much, but in addition to having a strong self-detructive streak, Pantera enjoyed turning his anger on others.
This is a double dose of painful; it manages to be horribly embarrassing like you're watching your uncle's shitty cover band in which he wears a Harley-Davidson do-rag at the same time as a high school battle of the bands where they're playing a Fender Squire through a Peavey Bandit. Amazing job, guys! Hipster Runoff has nothing on Metallica in the post-ironic humor department.
Why they changed:
Needless to say, volume upon volume has been written about the several dramatic shifts in Metallica's style. What could I possibly add, especially since I have always thought they were pretty terrible? Perhaps because I am an outsider, I believe I have a fresh perspective. I'm thinking that it went a little like this:
*establishing shot of a calendar that says 1989 on it*
James: OK guys, how do we follow up "Garage Days?" It's way better than any of our real albums, and it's all fucking covers, WTF. I don't know where we go from here. *sighs, throws up hands in frustration*
Kirk: Since we're obviously out of ideas and rich, why don't we just have fun with it and make the lamest fucking "hard rock" record we can, just for a joke??
James: Ha ha ha, I love it! Yeah, and I'll adopt this Southern redneck persona even though I'm from Bakersfield. It will be hilarious! Then after a year or something we'll reveal that it was all a put-on, everybody will have a good laugh, and we'll get tons of press.
Kirk: No, no, let's do it Andy Kaufman-style and never let on! We'll play it straight, and people will always be guessing whether it's a joke or we're really that fucking stupid. It will be way funnier that way!!
Lars: Totally! Also, we should make my snare so tight, ringy, and absurdly loud in the mix that it sounds like someone is banging on the side of a battleship with a ball peen hammer in time to the music!
James: Dude, come on. Let's not get carried away. We can't go too far over the top or it will be too obvious that it's a joke!
*shot of the pages on a calendar peeling off and blowing away in the wind until it says 2003*
James: LOL, guys, I can't fucking believe nobody's gotten the joke yet!! We need to do something so ridiculous that nobody can possibly miss it and everybody will catch on to the joke. Lars, what was that idea you had for a snare sound a few years back??
Many fans were ready to tar and feather them after the black album, and brought out their torches & pitchforks when they heard "Load." By the time "St. Anger" came out, most people kind of realized it was just a tired joke that had run its course, and maybe chuckled a little bit when they saw the video where they played Disturbed riffs in the prison yard. "Death Magnetic" was met with about the same reaction as someone wearing an Austin Powers Halloween costume in 2009: "Dude, you should probably go home and change. It's gonna be a long night if you don't."
How badly it fucked them
0/10, seemingly. Despite that they are perhaps the most hated band in all of metal, I still see 14 year-olds with bowl cuts, acne and bad posture wearing "Ride The Lightning" shirts as they follow their parents around the mall looking surly just like they did in 1989. Like Led Zepplin and Bob Marley, they have a mystifying ability to move merch to every new generation of shitbag loser teenagers, so what the fuck do I know about how much Metallica sucks?
Argh, I don't even know what to say about this... I hadn't watched it in a long time since Lucho uploaded it. I don't even think it's funny anymore, they just sound like legit morons that would deliver potato chips to bodegas or something and yap about their band endlessly: "Yeah man, we're playing at L'Amours, opening for DBC and Lawnmower Deth. You should come check it out bro, we'll blow your mind bro!"
Why they changed
*The band is sitting in the living room at Charlie's parents' home in Queens*
Joey: It's just not the same anymore. Ever since our practice space burned down, I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. The insurance forms say that the damage was only a few hundred dollars, but I feel like my youthful enthusiasm and whimsical, carefree outlook on life also went up in flames that night. *halfheartedly flips through a Judge Dredd comic, dejected*
Scott: I know, man. The other day I tried to put on my Adidas warmup suit and do borderline-racist rap poses in the mirror, and I just wasn't feeling it. And when someone told me that Billy Milano was actually a pretty smart, funny guy who was just "playing a character" in SOD, I couldn't even bring myself to shout "NOT!". I kinda feel like it might be time for Anthrax to break up...
Charlie: Snap out of it, guys!! *bursts into the room* We're not going to let this tragedy get the best of us! Let's channel our pain into writing a new record. It will be moody and repetitive, much slower, less fun and catchy than anything we've done so far. Also, we'll take the title from the name of a famous painting or something to sound deep, and the songs will be punishingly long to send the message that we have a lot to say!
Scott: Perfect. That will show everybody that we've grown up and we're not just the class clowns of Thrash High! We'll finally be seen as mature, legitimate musicians and get the respect we deserve from both fans and critics alike. Man, this is going to be great.
Charlie: Then once we find a guy with the least possible charisma, stage presence, and distinctive voice, we'll fire Joey and replace him!
Joey: Guys, I'm right here... I can hear everything you're saying.
Scott/Charlie: Shut up, Joey. Go play with your Transformers and make a new "injun" hat.
If you ask 100 different people about Anthrax's lineup changes, you will get 100 different answers. Some popular ones: "They would be better if Scott Ian sang," "They would be better if they kept Neil Turban," and "Cry for the Indians."
How badly it fucked them
5/10. Not too badly, actually. I mean don't get me wrong, Anthrax has been fucking horrible for over 20 years, but their first couple albums are so, so good that you can look past the new stuff, brushing it off as though it's just a phase they're going through (although if that phase was a person it would be old enough to drink). In any case, what it comes down to is that nobody will buy their new albums, but people will still go see them in hopes that they'll play the old, good songs. It's not unlike those washed up old bands like Cutting Crew or whatever that only play county fairs and riverboat casinos. Only unlike Cutting Crew, Anthrax used to put the NYHC logo on their merch.
Hasta next time...?
What did y'all think of this concept? There is certainly no shortage of content for future installments: Slayer, Celtic Frost, Sepultura, and Carcass to name but a few. Should we do more?